Lily and Audubon Texas friends and partners. Chloe Crumley, Audubon Texas Engagement Manager, Center. Photo: Audubon Texas


Youth Perspective – Advocating at the Texas Capitol to Save an Endangered Species 

"When I advocate, I represent my generation."

 By Lily Rerecich, 8th grader and Travis Audubon Society member, Austin, Texas

When I was 7 years old, I saw a nest with three Barn Swallow chicks and it inspired my love of birds. Ever since then, it has taken flight, so to speak; I started both studying and watching birds. I read books, took classes, and started birding. While in elementary school, I joined the Travis Audubon Young Birders Club and later the Young Women in Conservation program at my middle school in Austin, Texas. Birding fills me with a deep sense of wonder. Seeing birds also reminds me of what we stand to lose if we don't protect them. 

As my knowledge of birds has increased, so has my consciousness of their current struggles of habitat loss, pollution, window collisions, disease, and more – populations have declined steeply over the past 30 years. It is critical that we take action to protect birds. Last year I connected with Travis Audubon Society and joined their Advocacy Committee.

Through this network, I learned about a bill in the Texas House of Representatives, HB2239, that made it illegal to restrict the removal of the Ashe juniper Tree, effectively stripping the tree of protection. Audubon Texas led volunteers – including myself – in advocating against the bill. We passed out flyers to offices and explained our concerns, and many members emailed and called their state legislators signaling their opposition to the House and Senate bills. I was fortunate to testify at the Senate hearing for the bill. I was able to use my knowledge of birds to refute some falsehoods about the Ashe juniper tree and compared the bill to previous conservation disasters. I emphasized the ways in which the officials’ choices could negatively impact the ecosystem, and how they would determine whether or not my generation has a chance to save species.

It was meaningful for me to advocate at the Capitol so that I could connect face-to-face with our elected officials and highlight how their decisions have bigger consequences for local communities. When I advocate, I represent my generation. Every voice is unique and every voice matters because it helps complete the picture. That's why advocacy needs all of us.

How you can help, right now